Backlinks are links from other websites to your website.
There’s little question that obtaining quality backlinks will boost your content in the search engine results.
Quality backlinks have the following characteristics:
Characteristic #1: They are links to your website from high authority websites
A brand new domain starts with a rating of 0. In general, the more authoritative the domain that links to your website, the higher the SEO value.
Characteristic #2: They have the dofollow attribute
The default attribute of a link is dofollow. These links pass value from one website to another.
Links with the nofollow attribute have some value, but not nearly as much as dofollow links.
Characteristic #3: They are from well-written content rather than from listings pages
In general, a contextually relevant backlink that’s within a well written piece of content is better than a link from, say, a business listing page.
Where to focus?
There’s a lot of content out there that advises on how to get backlinks. However, some of the recommendations have a high effort to value ratio.
When it comes to obtaining backlinks, what activities are a questionable use of your time (and money)? What activities are a good use of your time?
Questionable uses of your time
I’m not saying “don’t do any of these.” However, it is worth questioning the value of these three approaches.
Paid backlinks used to be an effective form of backlink.
However, John Mueller of Google recently told Search Engine Journal that Google ignores paid backlinks.
Adding links to your website in comments and forums
In general, anywhere you can easily to add a link to your content, that backlink will have the nofollow attribute.
The owners of those sites and apps realize that if any added link was dofollow, their properties would become a big magnet for irrelevant links. So, the nofollow attribute is commonly added to any link that is posted.
We have seen a few exceptions. For example, the owner of an online community site that has generally responsible audience members who add helpful, relevant links may want to reward those members.
Cold outreach for backlinks
Cold outreach for links is often a full time job that involves a high volume of emailing to writers, marketers and business owners.
A lot of people do cold outreach using the following type of persuasive email. The technique starts with flattery and a promise to share your content. It then casts some doubt as to the freshness of your content. By linking to them, you will “enhance” your content…
Receiving these emails is actually a good gauge of how well your content marketing efforts are doing. As your website’s domain authority or rating increases, you provide more benefit to the websites that your site’s content links to. Those doing outreach want backlinks that will to boost their website’s authority.
Here is a [sanitized] example that a customer received and recently forwarded to me:
For someone who has just started to receive these types of emails, they think there’s benefit in it for them. That’s why they work. Customers often forward these types of to me and ask for my thoughts.
If you were to send out a lot of emails like this, would it be a good use of your time or your staff’s time? This approach must work to some extent, as a lot of people send these. On the other hand, many people (like me) have reached a saturation point and immediately block the senders of this type of email.
Good uses of your time
Warm outreach for backlinks
Start by asking some of those with whom you’re friendly for backlinks.
If your company is a partner of a software company or is a distributor for a manufacturer, you may (or should) have content that casts that vendor in a favorable light. If so, why not reach out to someone you know at the partner company and ask them for a link?
Ask your SEO or content marketing agency for a link
Your marketing agency likely has a medium to high Domain Rating, since they are usually good content producers themselves. As such, they meet Characteristic #1 above. If they can also meet Characteristic #3 by including a link to one of your blog posts from a quality piece of their content, this will make for a valuable backlink.
If they simply have a customer logo backlink to your home page, that’s not as valuable from an SEO perspective.
Write linkbait content
A tactic that can work well is to intentionally write content that baits authors (in a good way). This includes content such as statistics, survey results and niche calculators that may be more likely to attract links than does more text-oriented content.
The catch is that linkbait usually requires a lot more effort than a purely text-based article.
As an example, it took hours of my time plus paying and project managing a WordPress developer to create this CRM Cost Calculator. However, it has dofollow backlinks from eight domains, including links from domains with ratings of 92, 64 and 48.
Write content that gets organic backlinks without a focus on getting links
How can you make your collective content worthy of backlinks?
Consistently publish informative, well-optimized content. Over time, other content creators will find your content and some will find a post or posts to be linkworthy.
You’ll have some hits and misses, but your persistence will pay.
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